Racing, education, psychology and engineering - the multifaceted life of Irish motorcycle champion Haire

By Richard PetrieBBC Sport NI
David Haire
David Haire in action at the Kirkistown circuit for which he holds the lap record

Multiple Irish motorcycling champion, university academic in engineering, social sciences and child psychology, MotoGP technician and soon-to-be KTM test rider - David Haire's CV is certainly a varied and impressive one.

A native of Lisburn in Northern Ireland, the 30-year-old Queen's University graduate spent three years teaching and studying in Finland before moving to Austria last year.

Taking up a position as a design and development engineer for chassis and suspension with the KTM MotoGP team represents something of a labour of love for Haire, who boasts more than a few strings to his bow.

"I moved to Salzburg in September and have made a quick transition to the Austrian way way of life and the KTM family," explained the County Antrim man.

"I am working with a great team of engineers who are focused on winning, which is increasingly difficult in MotoGP these days. The pressure involved brings out the best in you and everyone around you.

"I attended the pre-season tests both in Jerez and Qatar just before the lockdown situation developed and was scheduled to attend further tests and races. Results and feedback for development are crucial in order to win."

Coronavirus puts testing opportunity on hold

The global coronavirus health pandemic has put the brakes on the start of this season's MotoGP campaign - and also temporarily to Haire's opportunity to test ride for KTM with Finnish ex-MotoGP rider Mika Kallio in southern Spain.

Spaniard Pol Espargaro and South African Brad Binder will ride for the Austrian manufacturer in this year's championship if or when circumstances permit it to get underway.

"It was nice to be asked to test ride to assist with the development of components to help the MotoGP team but unfortunately because of the lockdown that was cancelled," added Haire.

"Hopefully when normality returns I will get the chance to test again as it is a great opportunity for me to have a better understanding of the suspension and chassis components and get a feel for Grand Prix level technology."

David Haire Sunflower 2015
Haire was a regular competitor at the Sunflower Trophy meeting at Bishopscourt

'I could have gone much further in the sport'

Haire's successful short circuit racing career began as a 16-year-old but has been put on hold while he puts his engineering knowledge to good use in the world's premier two-wheel racing series.

Six times an Irish and Ulster Superbike and Supersport champion, he remains the fastest rider ever around the Kirkistown circuit in County Down and his other notable achievements include collecting the Enkalon Trophy, Davy Wood and Neil Robinson Trophies, plus the Adelaide Masters.

Haire also managed several top-six finishes at British Championship level and finished in the top 10 in the Supersport and Superstock classes on his only appearance at the North West 200 in 2012.

"I would love to return to racing - I never wanted to stop but it became very difficult to fund myself and survive on basic needs.

"I have no doubt I could have gone much further in the sport but sometimes life takes you in a different direction," reflected Haire.

David Haire
Haire's successes included becoming Adelaide Masters champion in the Supersport class

'Helping educate the next generation important to me'

A first-class honours graduate, Haire took a break from racing in 2015 to focus on his studies and teaching, firstly at Queen's University in his home country and then as a Master student of development psychology and social sciences at Abo Akademi, Finland.

"Learning is something I enjoy and the mental health of children and young people is something I am passionate about. Helping to educate the next generation is vitally important to me.

"I feel we are failing children on many levels, which is evident by the segregated, standardised and competitive structure of learning and assessment we have in Northern Ireland and a general western perspective, which stemmed from the industrial revolution and this conformed style of learning.

"My love of engineering steered me naturally to Queen's, especially in teaching, and my interest in the social sciences and psychology allowed me to combine both studies.

"We are heading very quickly toward a technological future where an understanding of mechatronics and technology, combined with the psychology of learning and understanding through many areas, allows me to have a better grasp of how I can move forward in my development."

Distinct Scandinavian way of life

Haire moved to Finland as part of his research for his Master thesis in Development Psychology, where he taught across Finnish and Swedish-speaking schools.

"That experience gave me a true reflection of one of the best education systems in the world, where the focus is to teach, learn and creativity, with outdoor education alongside nature more important than standardised tests.

"I absolutely loved Finland - the people and system structure of governance to education and looking after the elderly. It is a distinctly Nordic Scandinavian way of life.

"The experience has provided me with direct knowledge to forward my experience in helping inform both the education system and future society for our young generation in Northern Ireland and hopefully further afield."

The champion motorcyclist has enjoyed sampling all aspects of being resident in Finland and Austria and believes his native country can learn lessons from their way of life.

"Travelling and living in different countries has allowed me to embrace different cultures, languages, foods, climate and daily life.

"At a basic level I have encountered that it is about food, shelter and family, not the focus on materialistic belongings which is evident when I return to the UK and Northern Ireland.

"We have instilled a competitive nature by nurture from a young age."

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